State dissolves construction professions council to drive BEE

The SA Department of Public Works (DPW) will dissolve the construction professions Council for the Built Environment (CBE), for failing Black empowerment.

The DPW had studied the effectiveness of the current regulatory framework for professionals in the built environment, as a driver of government’s transformation and development policies, identified three options, and called for public comment before 27 June 2014.

The Department implicitly criticises the construction professions council or umbrella body, CBE, for a pretence of self-regulation, with its six subsidiary professional councils to regulate professionals and protect the public from misconduct by registered professionals.

Under Notice 370 in Government Gazette 37653 of 23 May 2014, the DPW lists several shortcomings in the regulatory framework, including;
• lack of co-operation between the CBE and subordinate professional councils
• lack of transparency in the use of public funds
• failure and resistance to comply with Public Finance Management Act requirements
• failure to act in the interest of the Department of Public Works
• poor alignment to public policy
• lack of racial transformation in the construction professions. Only 25% of registered professionals are from previously disadvantaged groups.

No Agents for hire

In the state’s view, registration should be a means to promote and drive transformation and prevent ‘professionals or Agents for hire’ ventures emerging from loopholes in law that allow registered professionals to sign off on the work of non-registered professionals.

The DPW aims to stop the practice that avoids legal requirements, and deprives registration authorities from registration fees. Some professional councils are unable or unwilling to investigate the misconduct of members.

Umbrella professional councils banned

DPW consulted the CBE and its councils, the state Treasury, and the Department of Science and Technology, and discussed the trend towards registration boards.

Some boards follow the structure used by IOSM /SAPBC /OHSAP and its affiliates, and SAIOSH /SA IOSH. The ‘board within a body’ structure is not one of the formats proposed by the six councils, the DST or Treasury.

The state now proposes repeal of the CBE Act, and for the DPW to be the custodian of the registration process, via construction professional councils directly. The DPW could then hear appeals by aggrieved persons resulting from decisions or conduct of the relevant professional councils.

Consultants comment on professions umbrellas

Consultant Rudy Maritz commented that self-regulation worked well in some countries, yet failed dismally in others. Due to the large impact on public health and safety of construction and the built environment, self-regulation in the African context is not ideal and industry needs regulatory control via a state department.

Yet government seems keen on private boards or councils to solve regulatory issues on their behalf. Mr Nxesi and his DPW team are one of the few to admit that professional pyramid structures are not sustainable. With the six professional councils, or a united council reporting to DPW, it could advantage government’s objectives.

For professionals there remains only one benefit – the right to work. The proposed changes will speed up transformation in various professions, within government’s strategic plan, not to the benefit of currently registered persons, but for new entrants into construction-relataed professions.

The Department of Labour has legislated registration via the Construction Regulations due to supposed incompetence in construction health and safety management, yet on the other hand we seen a gradual decline in training quality for these professionals.

Perhaps a more effective way of managing professions is via one registration authority for the built environment. Why six plus the SACPCMP? The eventual regulator should have closer links with the Consumer Protection Commission, DHE, DTI and SAQA.

The various councils do not seem to have much input into the expertise of their professions. They merely rubber-stamp accredited training and CPD providers, already approved by the SAQA and the Setas.

The bulk of the BE professionals will be engineers, ECSA members, which may well become the national regulator. As on site, engineers are the highest authority in construction professions. Second to ECSA is the SACPCMP, with project managers and health and safety managers as members.

If a single regulator is not formed, the DPW is at risk of merely taking over the ineffective roles of the CBE. While the DPW may not be the ideal state department to oversee engineers, it is an established system. Moving the function to DOL, DST or DTI would be costly. Still we need more options than the DPW offers in its study, as published in the Gazette.

Professionalisation is not a cure-all. Estate agents are a typical example of regulating honest, qualified professionals, while some still work unregulated.

The SAQA policy requires professions to be involved in policy. Likewise the DPW should rather regulate and accredit its professional associations and training providers. We need a two-party system; state and professionals.

Health and safety should split

From a health and safety point of view this change may mark the split of the profession back to its original form; safety as an engineering profession, and health as a medical profession. The Health Processions Council and Engineering Council are established regulators.

Transformation should be a choice and not forced upon institutions. We cannot and should not dictate to learners in which direction they must study, just to satisfy racial quotas in a particular profession. Why are only 25% built environment professionals, previously disadvantaged people? Perhaps since the potential members are 75% in government, state organs, and business management by choice?

None of the construction-related professional bodies do a good job of promoting their professions, or health and safety, partly due to a deficient regulatory structure, fluctuating work opportunities, and maintaining barriers to entry. -Rudy Maritz.

CBE explained its health and safety functions

The CBE’s report on its own performance in the first quarter of the current financial year, notes several construction health and safety functions in its Annual Performance Plan keyed to its administration, Skills Academy, Centre for Innovation, and public interest.

“The key strategic objective is ensuring a capacitated CBE that has alignment with government’s development priorities in the built environment which include infrastructure delivery, health and safety in construction and job creation.

“Progress achieved in the first quarter includes;
• A partnership has been forged with Department of Higher Education and Training in the identification of scarce skills as part of the formulation of the skills plan for the government’s infrastructure roll out programme under the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC).

• Collaboration was established with the Department of Labour to take forward the implementation of the Health and Safety in Construction, through a signed Accord. This initiative aims to ensure that those professional councils in the built environment that are directly affected by the Accord become co-signatories of the main Accord. The CBE further aims to partner with the Department of Labour and the Councils to effectively create public awareness on health and safety issues in construction.

• A joint initiative has also been established between the CBE and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to focus at labour intensive construction demonstration sites. This is in line with the CBE’s strategic objective to support government’s development priorities on job creation.

“Of concern, is the overall 12% under-expenditure budget variance. The organisation [CBE] continued to focus on the issues of risk management during the quarter, and this resulted in new mitigating strategies being developed for the already identified risks.

On its skills programme, the CBE reported;
• “signing of a contract for grant funding by the Construction SETA (CETA) of R6.6m for the workplace training placements of 150 candidates and interns
• formulation of the workplace training model by the CBE
• reaching 55 schools for BE career awareness
• accreditation visits to academic institutions offering landscape architecture.”

Most of these functions are shared by other state, statutory, private or voluntary bodies. Duplication of built environment health and safety functions were pointed out in several posts on Sheqarica.com in the last four years.

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Edmond Furter

Editor at Sheqafrica.com
Edmond Furter is the editor of Sheqafrica.com. He is a freelance technical journalist, and has won six journalism awards. He specialises in industrial, business, and cultural content in web, journal, and book formats.

14 thoughts on “State dissolves construction professions council to drive BEE

  1. Thanks for the information.
    I’m going to be a bit off the topic, or just expand the scope to it’s underpinning.
    A lot seems to go over my head, but what happened to separation of powers, public and private partnership, transparency?
    No institution barring the judiciary is beyond reproach, if DPW have a legitimate gripe, great, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
    I would rather see an independent Audit and reform
    (probe like we do for the usual mismanagement of funds).
    We can’t afford every private institution to merge into ONE state bureaucracy.
    I agree with your allusion of “supposed incompetence”, it’s the same “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that was voiced in the ministers release of the new Construction Regulations 2014 following the Tongaat Mall collapse(mud-brick concrete).
    So far these institutions can hardly spend their own budgets, deliver textbooks to school children in Limpopo, but they did a good job of getting the ballot papers out in May.
    Rather control what you can implement than make people lose faith in the whole process.
    Regarding the separation of disciplines, maybe you are correct, maybe you need a bit of both.
    The modular specialization in institutions is needed to keep raising the level of professionalism, but at the same time you need institutions that function similar Integrated Management Systems like ISO9001+ISO14001+OHSAS18001 which provide structure, minimize duplication and increase efficiency.
    The top of each would fall under the Umbrella/Pyramid structure that works efficiently.
    There is no need to reinvent the wheel, or am I being over simplistic?

    1. Hi Vincent / Shane
      Thanks for your views. I do not think it is over-simplistic, but you bring valid questions to mind. Why “can” only one council, instead of canning the whole lot and improve the CBE as a regulator of all professions within the built environment? The argument in favor of multiple regulators within the same industry sector holds little water, other than the “specialism” of each council.
      As to the DOL being the regulator, it may not be a bad idea if you want the entire SA professions to be regulated. The DPW is limited to the Built environment – aka the construction industry. The biggest driver for this “regulator” is the fact that public funds (tax money) is used to deliver Infrastructure to the entire nation. And protecting the nation from incompetence and corruption is key. However, the CBE and its councils reportedly does very little to protect the public from “unauthorized” expenditure as they are clearly reluctant to comply with the PFMA.
      As for “self-regulation”, we need to be clear on the “Self” within the regulatory framework. Self implies the profession regulates itself, protect itself, and promote itself. Itself funds development and research and itself expels non-compliant members. No profession in SA is large enough to carry this burden successfully. We have already seen too many Closed corporations registered as so-called non-profit organisations to even remotely suggest we as SA are capable of regulating ourselves. Just look at our driving skills on our highways. Every one for him/herself.
      No, SA needs government regulation – not self regulation. BUT… we need competent capable and sustainable authorities to perform these functions.
      I would support a notion that government regulates and professions advance and promote itself. As a profession we need to protect ourselves foremost. Yet we open the gates and let all in – as long as we can be their voice. This is not sustainable. There need to be a process to enter into a profession – a way to conduct yourself within the scope of the profession and someone to check this is done. These parties, like Vincent suggested should not be the same. Professions like engineering, architecture and even the judiciary knows this already.
      Whichever way this goes, there are two elements of certainty. Government will take it all for itself, and only patronize the professions by giving them “accreditation” in typical “we hear you” fashion. Secondly, government will use these institutions to drive its own objectives, including transformation and job creation, with little interest in the profession itself. If in the end it destroys the profession, so what? It is not about the profession at all – it’s about delivery on its mandate. Yes and if Koos do decide to form another association, so be it. It is better to have the entire profession represented by 10 bodies than have one body represent 5% and speak on behalf of everybody. It’s called democracy – we have 3 political parties for each official language – why should there be limits? We have rights you know 🙂
      The only hurdle in this scenario is the same one that brought governments to their knees – the desire for power.

  2. I was sent Notice 370 in Government Gazette 37653 of 23 May 2014, for comment about a week ago for comment. Unfortunately i have not studied it thouroughly however for me it is simple:

    Professions must be self-regulatory
    Split of Health and Safety into “safety and “health” is not good business sense, and will increase the costs for the employer/business entity.
    If there is need for one department to regulate – It should be the Department of Manpower – System such as in the UK.
    RSA has signed the ILO agreement for “both Occupational Health and Safety” as one – i will try and get the document number
    Once again – interference, this will unfortunately just continue, until anouther department comes along with their claim to fame. Please Koos, start your own, i will support it from a distance

    Best Regards
    shane

    1. Ag, I am just so tired now of hearing this and hearing that. If the gubberment in South Africa want to take away things, they must just do it. Take away everything and just gives it to someone because they are the right skin tone. :Last time I looked I am not even white……I am beige. It is my knowledge and experience that does make who I am…….so I am not even going to bother. I feel so sorry for everyone who is struggling in SA. But the fat cats must just take…take everything….take my membership. That is why old Koos had the vision to move to Zimbabwe. I am fed up…..this constant bickering about this and that doesn’t move the country forward……it moves some rich people more forward.

      IRCNOSHA has become defunct. It was nice while it lasted, but now I must move on to beeeger and beter things. My next project is Transluscant Earth Empowerment (TEE)……all the people in the earth does qualify, therefore I have the biggest membership base of any organisation on the planet regardless of race, background, creed, religion, training, qualifications or experience. We will strive to grow our membership base by promoting space travel to find and conquer other planets. Our mision will be to protect the Health and Safety of the human race, by making sure that we can keep living wifout risk for many thousands of years to come.

      1. That are cos you are not using CREMORA. Besides what long winded acronym must I make with KOFFIE? This is not a NIOCSA copycat.

  3. OHS registration has been one of the biggest jokes that this country has ever heard. I studied BTech in OH Nursing in RSA and furthered my studies at Salford University in PgDip (Hons) and graduated eventually an MSc in health and safety management in 2005.
    When I arrived back home in 2006, I googled for a professional body for registration, unfortunately there was none. Instead there was a predominantly Afrikaaner organisation called IOSM which operated from somebody’s garage in Clubview and they asked a ‘registration’ fee R600. There was no professional body, it was an association and yet they were telling me that they needed to assess my level of competence.
    They held meetings in Afrikaans among Black South Africans. Most Blacks left IoSm and tried to start their own association without success.
    I tried to check if NOSA was still alive but I was surprised to hear that NOSA had gone bankrupt and that some at top management level had bought the intellectual property rights for training, and now NOSA is a zombi for printing money. How cheap!
    IoSM did not stop because evil grows on what it feeds on. They approached the former Minister of Labour, mr Mdladlana, to make Iosm a statutory body to regulate OHS. Now they are conformably sitting inside SACPCMP deciding who gets registered at which level.
    I am thrilled to hear that Public Works smells a rat. Many Black health and safety highly qualified people have left South Africa. I pray for a well-run professional body, free of colour, creed and social standing. Amen

    1. Frank
      Funny that you would play the “Afrikaner” card this late in our little democracy. And then end with the DPW smelling a rat? How many Afrikaners do you see amongst the councils where the rat’s odour comes from? Nope, they had their share of blame. But sticking to Nkandla Style, I have to agree with you that IOSM is a duck in the dessert – DEAD.
      Many have tried to start a professional body for SHEQ for everybody but end up with a selected few. It is sad. Perhaps also an Afrikaner thing – we will wait until they collapse and then support them.
      And whenever a new body is started they are simply run into the ground with insults and issues from the very people they want to support. I joined NIOCCSA after they were run down. I joined just for the hell of it. I did not want to join people who simply run others down to show their own tail feathers. Just because nobody else had the guts to support them. To scared of being scammed again. Don’t blame them. Yet they are already in their third quarter and I still see their ad on this site, and haven’t paid any membership fees to date. I think these guys are in it for the right reason. Why else would you go so far without income from members?
      Did I get a nice certificate to say “I Belong” ? No, but I got a contract that earned me a great deal of money. How? They actually DO something to allow people to see me or hear of me.
      Professional bodies may be a joke, but I chose wisely. And now I am smiling.

      1. Ag, Peter Shields, the poster boy and flag bearer for NIOCCSSA. Is that a toothless smile because you did get the teeth ripped right out of your little head?

        Who would have thought you were a tenderpreneur. Of course, I am just joking, I have no interest in any of these organisations, They will all get my positives or negatives directly. Back in 1999 or 2000, I don’t know, I went to some presentation by Ray Preekdom, where he was unveiling the new iosm membership structure. It is quite sad tht we are all these years down the line, and a good credible body like IOSH UK could have been established – except all there is too show is a bit of squabling and home cottage businesses. Forget the memberships now – its a load of kak in the SA context – sa needs some good tertiary H&S training. It needs the universities and technikons to establish some good programmes – there is lots of training elsewhere in the world. And while SA fights internally, the rest of the world just moves ahead. Koos is finished now. I have had my say. I just read a research paper on the NOSA 5 star system at the end of the day – H&S qualified people are need to help enforce H&S within the companies – the paper concludes:

        “Methodological problems in evaluating accident prevention
        programmes abound. However, the results of this study indicate
        that voluntary OHS management systems are capable of improving
        firm’s accident performance but also that the audit systems are
        imperfect and seem at least partly incapable of handling partial
        disclosure of information and intentional deception. The problem
        likely resides in an inherent information asymmetry, that the audited
        party has more and better information than the auditing
        party. Contributing factors may be a power imbalance and conflicts
        of interest; the auditors have few sanctions, they are paid by the
        audited party and they have no interest in estranging the business
        relation with the audited party.
        This may be an unwelcome result for the viability of mutual
        regulation. In a broader view however, the adoption of such systems
        might well be endorsed by policymakers, because their positive
        impact on OHS performance could be substantial when
        aggregated over an entire country. It is clear though, that such systems
        cannot substitute authority enforcement activities at company
        level.” (Hedlund, 2014, Safety Science, p.103)

  4. Koos
    If there is one thing I do AGREE on with you, is the proper training at Tertiary level. There is and never will be a better solution. The reality is however 20 years of democracy that deminished the market demand for higher education because “sniff sniff” we have white guilt and we need to fix our screw-ups of apartheid when we deprived people from attending universities. So to fix this we create gazillions of courses and training programmetjies and workshoppies on how to pass your Ray Strydom degree. And while some fight for preservation of the profession others fight for the demolition of the tertiary education system. We all moan and bitch about people leaving the country, but nobody admits that we screwed up our own level of expertise.
    Government spends millions on colsuntants because they cannot fix the problem, yet create an even bigger one by forcing people to register with councils they do not even know will exist in the new year. They spend money on beeskraals, and then blame the professionals for deaths in the workplace. Then they create another council, take money for it and built new beeskraals and underwater vineyards or what ever they do with the taxpayer’s money.
    Membership is needed, in fact a freaking AMCU look-alike for SHEQ is needed. But shame, the poor safety offiserkies. Too scared to voice their concerns – why should they? They do not pay for registration, their employers do. Happy to receive their paperkies with “you can now work” written all over it. You are right. It is a load of K@K, but if the profession is not going to rise to the occasion and stand up, tit will turn into a sewerage farm – perhaps the EFF wants that too.
    GET UP, WAKE UP and SMELL the RAT.
    Have you heard any professional body with SAQA “approval” saying this OFF like old bokkoms? No sir, they are dead slient; or just dead. Why Koos? tell me, why has non of the other professional bodies made any comments, other than Mr Lishman noting that H&S cannot be seperated as it will cost employers more?
    Dis ‘n gemors man, to copy your expression.
    It reminds we of the apartheid days when the one party wanted to chase people into the sea and other party refused them access to the beaches.
    But so typical of Souf Africa, we all sleep until it is too late, and then start whining like a cat on heat.

  5. Peter, do you for one moment think that professional bodies would really waist their time to engage in social chit-chat free for all forums like this? If you do then you are the one that needs to WAKE Up and SMELL the RAT. As the official “poster boy” of NIOCCSA you should now that true professionals do not have time for nonsense like this.

    1. Craig – forums are useful for trading information and learning new things. The IOSH UK forum is alive with debate on serious topics. It isn’t always a waste of time, but I agree, sometimes there is too much talking, not enough doing whether on forums or industry / publicly / member funded indabas and luxury conferences. Now where is my red overall and red beret.

  6. Craig. Call me a poster boy if it blows your skirt up. But I for one do not just moan on wasted time. Besides it is my time and I can waste it if I feel the need to air an opinion.
    You may find facebook interesting, but I find this forum interesting – different folks suffer different strokes. At least here we agree even if it is to disagree.
    But let me guess…Koos mentioned something about tertiary training and you feel offended?

Comments are closed.